Making Your Own Scary Halloween Masks

Scary halloween masks bought at the store are okay, but the truly creative type make their own! It's not as hard as it may seem to make absolutely amazing masks in scary or festive styles to be the highlight of your costume. You may even win a contest for your efforts. Ready? Try one of these.

Computer-Generated Masks
You can make almost any image into a mask this way. If you can take a picture with a digital camera, or find a picture online of what you'd like to be, and you know how to use some basic photo editing software, the possibilities are endless in terms of design. All you need to do is take or find a head shot that you want your mask to look like. Be sure to zero in on a frontal view of the face of your subject. It doesn't matter if it's a real person or an animal, just have a full-size clear frontal picture of the face you want. You may need to zoom in, crop the background, or adjust the color, contrast, lighting, or other elements. Do that adjusting until you have a full page of the head of your choice. Print it using a good quality color printer on glossy paper, 8 ½" x 11" is generally the best size to work with.

For sturdiness, if you are going to have this mask on a stick to hold in front of you, mount your picture on a stiff piece of cardboard. Don't do this if you plan to wear it with elastic cord. Cut the eyes out carefully. Cut closely around the outside of the head. If it is a full face, and you intend to wear it, cut some small holes around your nostril location when wearing the mask to let in air. Punch holes on the sides, affix some elastic or ribbon, and tie it on. If you want to hold it, mount it instead on a chopstick, dowel, pencil, or other stick, with craft glue.

Plaster Masks
These are easy yet time consuming to make. Get some plaster coated bandages from a medical supply store, and some Vaseline. The first step requires two people. Cut the plaster bandages into smaller strips, and soak them in warm water. Coat the face of the person who will wear the mask with Vaseline. Then, gently layer the plaster bandages over the person's face until it's completely covered. Be sure to allow space for breathing through the nose or mouth. Allow the plaster to set for around 20-30 minutes. Then, carefully remove the plaster and allow it to dry over about 48 hours. When it's dry, you may trim the edges, cut out eye shapes related to the expression you wish to have on the mask, and paint the mask. After the mask paint dries, add details with any materials you wish. You may not need a string around the back to hold it on your head, but if you do, add and use one. Be creative! You can use clay to build up the nose, eyebrows, forehead or chin, or any other idea.

Paper Mache Masks
Make similar to the plaster above, but with no need for Vaseline. Cover the subject's face with foil, gently pressing to mold the foil around the features. Remove the foil. Tear newspaper into strips and soak them in a paste solution (flour and water or glue and water), Apply layers of paper strips on the foil, taking care to smooth it over the details of the foil. Allow to dry on the foil for up to a week. Then, carefully remove the foil, trim, paint and decorate the mask as desired. Add an elastic string to hold it on your face if needed.

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